Review of Tray Selector Plug-In for Microsoft Word

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Maybe you’re lucky enough to have your own printer right at your desk. But if you’re working in an office where you print to multiple paper types—some bond, some letterhead, mostly plain paper—and your networked printer(s) has(have) multiple trays, you may have run into the problem of how you keep them all straight. Is there letterhead loaded in tray 2, or is that plain paper? What if I have to print a multi-page letter (which requires printing from more than one tray in a single print job)?

To get around this problem, you may have tried programming macros or setting up shortcuts within the printer’s preferences dialog. (Or, you probably do what I do now: walk over to the printer and manually feed multi-page letters.)

If you’re tired of trying to figure out which printer and/or what tray to print to, you might try the Tray Selector plugin for Microsoft Word ($29.95 per license; 30 day trial and bulk discounts available). Here’s what happened when I downloaded a trial copy and put it through its paces.

Unless otherwise noted below, all instructions and screenshots are for Microsoft Office 2007 for Windows.

Installation

I downloaded a trial copy of Tray Selector and installed it using the .exe file, since I was installing it for Word 2007. (Word 2010 and 2013 users need to install it from a different version.) Installation went through the usual Windows software process (a dialog box that asks a few questions, including consent to a EULA), then offers to open a help file in Word.

tray-selector-help

The first thing I noticed, right off the bat, was that installation in Word 2007 does not place toolbar where indicated in Help guide; rather, it puts it in the Add-Ins tab. The illustration in their Help file is really more appropriate for Word 2003. The installed plug-in ends up on the Add-Ins tab in Word 2007:

tray-selector-tab

It gets its own tab in Word 2010:

tray-selector-tab-2010

Setup

Once I found the plug-in’s setup bar, I clicked Settings and quickly worked through setting up various profiles. I frequently print to letterhead, bond paper, plain paper, and various types of labels, which required six profiles:

tray-selector-setup

I marked all of them to show on the toolbar so I had instant access to them:

tray-selector-tab-2

Now, on to the printing experiments

Now that I had my profiles set up, I ran a few tests on my new profiles. First up was printing an envelope. I didn’t see any settings on the Tray Selector dialog box for specifying portrait or landscape modes, so I was a little nervous about whether the address would be rotated the right way.

I needn’t have worried about that; rather, the printer asked for manual feed (instead of printing on one of the envelopes pre-loaded into the envelope feeder installed on the printer). Then, to add insult to injury, it spit out an error message on a separate sheet of paper:

tray-selector-error

A bit dismayed, I moved on to my biggest pain in the neck, print-wise: printing a multi-page letter (with a first page that prints to one tray and subsequent pages that print to a different tray). Result: page 1 prompted me to place plain paper in manual feed; the second page came out from the correct tray with no problem.

Two tests in, and only half of one print job came out correctly. I was not pleased.

For my third experiment, I tried printing to bond paper on a different printer. This time, everything worked fine.

Why all the problems?

The problems I experienced with the letterhead printer probably stem from the fact that some printers not only expect you to select the correct tray, but to tell it what kind of paper you’re feeding through it. This isn’t just an annoyance; it’s possible to set the fuser temperature in some printers to be different for certain types of paper for optimal toner adhesion. (For example, we found recently that labels needed a higher fuser temperature; otherwise, the toner smudged right off.) This printer is set up to print letterhead from trays 2 and 3; if it receives a default instruction to print “unspecified” paper to either of those trays, it may stop the printing process cold.

HP-LaserJet-4100-setup

Unfortunately, Tray Selector has no settings for “paper type”, which probably means it’s sending all pages as “unspecified”. That limits its usefulness when printer trays are configured for specific types of paper.

When I contacted Support for a resolution, here’s what they said:

Yes some printers are setup to detect the paper type of a document and select a Tray accordingly rather than just use the auto select option. In this way a user can define a paper type for their document and then once sent to the printer the printer will select the Tray. The other way to define the Tray is to send the Tray code while printing. This is done manually using print->page setup and selecting the tray options for first page and other pages.  Essentially Tray Selector uses this second method. The main advantage of this is that the same document can be printed to different Trays in different ways with a single click. Our main customers are law firms who generally want to print a copy to first page headed then plain continuation and then perhaps a copy to plain. For this reason it doesn’t make a lot of sense to pull the paper from the tray based on the document paper type since the same document is printed different ways. There are also other issues with using paper type e.g. if the document is sent to another user to print and they have the paper tray’s for particularly paper types defined differently.

So we find that our users prefer to just set the printers to automatically default and then use Tray Selector to define a button to print in different ways.

Bottom line: I need to get our printers reconfigured to make this plug-in work in my environment. Given there are other users involved (some of whom still use WordPerfect, which embeds paper types into documents, necessitating the paper tray definitions), that may not be an option.

The verdict: useful, but definitely try before you buy

If you’re having problems getting your letters to come out of the right printer tray, it’s worth downloading the free trial and experimenting to see if you’d find it useful. However, if you’re working with printers that specify paper types for certain trays, be prepared to do some printer tweaking or suffer disappointment. Personally, I was really hoping this would solve my printing problems at work. No such luck.

Summary

Tray Selector 1.64

Reviewed by Deborah Savadra on .

Summary: Tray Selector is a handy plug-in that makes printing to multiple print trays a breeze. But be sure to test with your printers before purchasing.

Breakdown:

  • Price and features: 3.0
  • Hardware and design: 3.5
  • Included software: 3.5
  • Performance: 3.0

 

Overall score: 3.25 (out of 5)

(image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ryaninc/2965304390/)

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